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Cell SMS in Planes on Trial Down-Under

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the guess-where-i-am dept.

Communications 116

jetkins writes "Just days after the FCC announced that the use of cellular phones would be officially banned onboard aircraft in the USA, ZDNet reports that Australian airline Qantas is to undertake a three-month trail of a new in-flight cellular service. Initially installed on a single aircraft, the system utilizes technology from British company Aeromobile, providing a miniature GSM 'tower' within the aircraft cabin. Since GSM phones dynamically adjust their transmit power, being in such close proximity to the tower means that phones will emit only minimal RF. The system operates as a separate 'country', meaning phones must be enabled for international roaming and calls are charged at international roaming rates. During the trial at least, only SMS, MMS, and GPRS (data) traffic will be allowed; voice calls will be blocked."

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FCC? (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811577)

Shouldn't that be FAA?

And when are these asshats going to learn that cell phones do not interfere with flight controls? You'd figure at least one of them had to watch that MythBusters episode.

Re:FCC? (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811603)

i think it was already banned by the FAA, for a long time. the FCC just recently banned them.

Re:FCC? (1)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812351)

i think it was already banned by the FAA, for a long time. the FCC just recently banned them.

No, the FCC ban has been in place for a long time -- at least since the late 80's, even before cell phones became ubiquitous.

And to clarify, the FAA doesn't completely ban cell-phones. The aircraft operator has the option to allow:

Any other portable electronic device that the part 119 certificate holder has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used [flightsimaviation.com]

If you read the entire regulation, you'll see that almost ANY electronic device is banned unless the aircraft operator has made this determination.

Re:FCC? (5, Insightful)

varmittang (849469) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811639)

Who cares if they interfere with flight controls. I'm sick of being in a public place and having everyone yapping on their cell phones. Take that and put it in an enclosed area, makes for a very long ride with someone sitting next to you that wont shut up. Especially if you are trying to get some shut eye. That is why they are allowing data, and SMS stuff only, so that you don't have to talk to communicate with people outside the plane.

Re:FCC? (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811685)

Get noise-canceling headphones. I never travel without a pair. The good ones tend to be fairly bulky and heavy, but they're worth it even if the person next to you keeps their mouth shut just for the reduction in plane noise.

Re:FCC? (1)

baker_tony (621742) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811973)

Man, I totally agree. I brought a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones a couple of years ago and they kick ass (aren't bulky and heavy, I can happily wear them through an 11 hour flight). Damn expensive but I compared them to a cheaper pair of "plane quiet" ones and they're worth the extra money (well, to me anyway). Sound better and do a better job of cancelling out the noise, especially when there is any movement of your head, the plane quiet ones mess up the sound somehow.
Oh, and only bugger about allowing sms etc on planes is the freaken beeping that will be going off around you because people don't know how to mute their freaken phones.

Re:FCC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812583)

Too bad Bose products inevitably sound like ass and their consumer noise canceling headphones require essentially a single constant hum to work, like airplane engines, so they're no good on the streets. or anywhere except a plane. I'm not buying cans just to use on flights.

Re:FCC? (1)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812109)

I believe noise-cancelling headphones are now banned on US Airline flights under the "nothing with a battery" rule. At least during takeoff when things are noisiest. Maybe someone knows the rule in greater detail.

Re:FCC? (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812275)

you are kidding right? As if I need another reason not to fly these days. It's this kind of bullshit that makes mne glad to have booked a sleeper overnight train for my next holiday. It's like the air travel industry *wants* to commit suicide.

Re: think you're right (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812493)

There's a valid point to not wearing them during takeoff/landing . . . those are the dangerous times for flying and you should be aware of your surroundings and be able to listen to any instructions should something go awry.

Re: think you're right (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812883)

"When the plane strikes the ground at 400 knots, brace yourself on the seat in front of you and await instructions from the cabin crew"

Re:FCC? (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812967)

I fly London to/from San Francisco with United about once every 5-6 weeks, and they've never/ever said anything about "nothing with a battery", though I usually wait until we're in the air to get out my "travel kit". It's not takeoff and landing that bothers me. It's 11 hours of constant noise.

Re:FCC? (1)

dal20402 (895630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812147)

Noise canceling headphones are great at blocking engine noise (or other constant, mostly low-frequency sound) but can't do anything about voices. If they are reducing the volume of voices it is only because they are isolating your ears.

For me, they are not enough. I would still go insane, even with my QC3s, if voice conversations were allowed. I think SMS/data only is the perfect compromise -- allows all those crazies who can't be without the communications teat for a couple hours to get their fix, but doesn't subject the rest of us to rage-inducing yelling.

Re:FCC? (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813079)

Noise canceling headphones are great at blocking engine noise (or other constant, mostly low-frequency sound) but can't do anything about voices. If they are reducing the volume of voices it is only because they are isolating your ears.


If you think so, you better try better quality ones. Mine has an "off" switch that turns off the noise canceling. When the noise cancel function is on I can hardly make out voices right next to me. When it's off I can hear them loud and clear with the headphones on.

Re:FCC? (1)

karmatic (776420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812211)

Even better - get a pair of Shure E2c [shure.com] s (or higher). They have plugs that are basically the foam earplugs used by airline ramp agents, with a tube in them for sound. Don't "cancel" the noise - absorb it. As a nice bonus, because of the absorbtion, you can listen at a much lower volume, if you are into that thing.

Personally, I have the E4c - better sound and more comfortable than the (arguably very comfortable) Bose headphones. Not that the Bose are the pinnacle of sound quality - you can get a good pair of Sony headphones that sound better, for cheaper. It's kind of like owning an iPod - it's not as good as the competition (Zune excluded), nor as cheap, nor as reliable, but some people value form over function.

Re:FCC? (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813141)

I really hate using earplugs, or I'd probably try it... I've yet to find any that doesn't feel extremely uncomfortable to me. With my headphones the only sound remaining is typically the deepest base parts of the engine noise anyway, which I don't notice much.

Re:FCC? (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812903)

A much better idea than noise canceling headphones would be to get in ear monitors. Instead of using complicated electronics to keep sound out of your ear, they use a good old-fashioned plug. Because of this they give much better sound than sound canceling headphones. In fact many give damn good sound, as they couple very tightly with your ear drum due to the perfect seal they give.

Re:FCC? (4, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811807)

I'm sick of being in a public place and having everyone yapping on their cell phones.

Airplanes are (supposed to be) private possessions of private companies. If you don't like a airline that supports cell phone use, you are free to take your business elsewhere.

Re:FCC? (1, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812451)

If you don't like a airline that supports cell phone use, you are free to take your business elsewhere.
Who on earth modded you insightful for this statement? In theory maybe what you say is true, but in practice the world just doesn't work like that. In fact rather than insightful, I find your post arrogant and naive.

1. Since when have airlines (or any companies, in any industry) offered radically different services, unless there was a significant difference in price. If one of the does something, usually they all do it.

2. You are limited to route AND carrier. Sure, capital city to capital city you might get competition, outside of that... not so much choice, if any at all.

Take your business elsewhere? Yeah, sure - good luck with that...

Re:FCC? (2, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812859)

In theory maybe what you say is true, but in practice the world just doesn't work like that.

Yes, that's why I was careful to include "supposed to", though not for the reasons you mentioned. I was more referring to the governmental decree that a commercial airline is not allowed to operate without abiding by numerous legislations.

Re:FCC? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812489)

No. The idiots will all demand it and it will be like smoke free airlines in the 70/early 80s. Sure they COULD exist, but most airlines will want the talkers and my guess is every major carrier would allow it. I would be surprised if they didn't. So the only "talk-free" airlines would be little regional or such and wouldn't serve me or my destinations probably.

Re:FCC? (2, Informative)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812535)

Except if you live in a town serviced by one airline. If I want to fly anywhere without first driving two-and-a-half hours my first flight of the trip is guaranteed to be American Eagle to the airport I would be driving to. It isn't until I get to the hub that I'm free to choose a different airline.

Re:FCC? (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812543)

Yeah, but I'm pretty sure that people will jump ship from planes that allow cell phone use. That means losses in profits, which is bad for business. Seeing that I'm probably in the majority, in that I don't want to be in close proximity with 150 to 200 people all yapping on cellphones, even if I'm on mine too. Plus, business travelers are where the money is at, and most business people on planes take the time to update spreadsheets, finish a report, write an email, or take a nap because that is the only time they can. Do you think they want to work in a space filled with people talking. They want a quiet as possible place to work, and not all business can afford to send their travelers first class. Trains here on the east coast have a quiet car for people going home after working in the city. That car is where all phones and music players need to be off and there are to be no talking. Those cars are usually swamped with people going home at the end of the day. I see would think there would be the same demand for quiet on airplanes.

Re:FCC? (1)

thetable123 (936470) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811843)

I'm sick of being in a public place and having everyone yapping on their cell phones.
I can't even imagine, it is bad enough at work where I sit cubes down from phone yammerers, I can only imagine the irritation of having to sit next to one on a multi hour flight. As a matter of fact I am getting irritated just thinking about it. Now I'm off to abuse the orally incontinent.

Voice calls not enabled (1)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811851)

Not only did you not read the article, you didn't even read the /. abstract. They are only allowing data calls, voice isn't enabled. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Re:Voice calls not enabled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812071)

You didn't even read the post you were criticising. At least, not the last sentence of it.

Yes he did, but you didn't read his post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812097)

"That is why they are allowing data, and SMS stuff only, so that you don't have to talk to communicate with people outside the plane."

Had you read all of his post before responding, you'd have seen that line.

Don't worry though, you're not the first person to say something stupid.

Re:Voice calls not enabled (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812155)

They cant stop people making voice calls I fail to see what makes them think people will use ONLY the aircrafts network.

Re:Voice calls not enabled (1)

bloobloo (957543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812525)

Of course they can. You must comply with any legal order given under the authority of a plane's captain while in his aircraft. Refuse to stop talking when ordered, and you can be arrested. And the staff are allowed to use reasonable force to enforce their orders.

Re:FCC? (1)

Kalzus (86795) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812549)

(redundant, but whatever)

When you are in this situation, turn your head, and politely (or not) tell them to shut up. Tell them they're being irritating. If it gets out of hand, summon the flight crew and explain the situation. If enough of your passengers agree, things happen.

Problem with this is VoIP (0)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812573)

I have a Windows Mobile smart phone which I've installed Skype on. So even if they disabled voice, I could use VoIP over the data channel to talk.

Re:FCC? (1)

PhotoJim (813785) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812653)

International roaming rate... a buck or two a minute? Anyone who can afford to yack on their phone at $60-120 an hour can afford to sit in business class, and I won't be in there so I won't care. :) If someone in economy class talks on their phone for an hour, snicker to yourself about how horrible their bill is going to be. The vast majority of people are going to talk on their phones for very short durations. "We're running late; pick me up at 11." I don't see the duration of calls being a problem at all. Unless we ban people talking to the people beside them, allowing phone conversations is not making things that much worse. The only thing that's different is that you can't hear the other side of the conversation.

Re:FCC? (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813547)

Unless we ban people talking to the people beside them, allowing phone conversations is not making things that much worse. The only thing that's different is that you can't hear the other side of the conversation.

THANK YOU! How many people on here today are whining about other people talking on cellphones? Yet they don't complain about 2 people carrying on a face-to-face conversation (which actually has twice the noise locally).

I honestly believe that the key reason for this annoyance is because they feel socially excluded. They might not see it that way.

I also think it has to do with a resentment of the rich. Today, of course, almost anyone can have a cheap cellphone. But they started out as a trapping of rich people. I believe that latent resentment is still there.

Re:FCC? (1)

Finuance (1066546) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813903)

I would actually prefer a two-way conversation over a one-way phone conversation.

The fact I only hear part of the conversation, quite frankly, irritates me greatly.

"Yeah?"
"Oh no he didn't?"
"Oh my GOD!"
"I like totally know what you mean."


Who wants to hear that crap? At least if the conversation is behind you, you'll be able to hear all the juicy details.

Re:FCC? (1)

thetable123 (936470) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813979)

THANK YOU! How many people on here today are whining about other people talking on cellphones? Yet they don't complain about 2 people carrying on a face-to-face conversation (which actually has twice the noise locally).
No, I complain about people talking face to face, and it is the same people. I, for one, think there is no reason to advertise ones own stupidity.

Uhoh, I'm doing it myself.

Re:FCC? (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814163)

No, I complain about people talking face to face, and it is the same people. I, for one, think there is no reason to advertise ones own stupidity.

Uhoh, I'm doing it myself.


I can see that - I don't necessarily hate people on cellphones... I just hate people.

So the question that really needs to be answered is why do people feel they need to talk louder into cellphones? I even catch myself doing it. You can talk at a normal volume and they work just fine. I wonder if it's from people watching all these army movies where the guys have to yell into the radios? Maybe we're just conditioned into thinking mobile radio requires yelling to work?

Re:FCC? (4, Informative)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811645)

If I remember correctly, the FCC and FAA have both banned it for different reasons. FCC banned it because they are concerned about how it will affect cell towers on the ground. FAA banned it because they are concerned about interference with airplane electronics. To my knowledge neither of them are saying it's definitively a problem, just that it could be and that they don't want to take the risk.

Re:FCC? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812085)

I believe that the _REAL_ reason that cellular phones are banned on airplanes is so that the airlines can keep passengers as close to tame cattle as possible. To control that many people standing in lines and such pretty much requires that everyone is acting like calm cattle being herded into this direction or that.

If everyone was busy on their cellular phones during the flight, they would be the normal harassed not-paying-attention-to-anyone-else kind of people they normally are. The time dilation normally experienced when people are on airline-schedule timing would run abruptly into people's normal busy schedules and that just wouldn't work. The ban is really about crowd control.

Re:FCC? (1)

MCZapf (218870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812485)

You may use a cell phone during the entire boarding and de-boarding process, so the ban doesn't really help keep people calm and attentive during those times.

Mythbusters. (2, Informative)

Rukie (930506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811691)

Uhm, as I recall on the Mythbusters show, cell phones WILL interfere if there is no shielding, but because everything is shielded there is no effect. (Right?)

Re:Mythbusters. (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814151)

No. There's lots of wiring that isn't shielded. Even with shielded wiring, the shielding often degrades and fails with age. Plus, there are plenty of antennas that can't be shielded if you still expect them to function as antennas.

Re:FCC? (2, Informative)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812461)

And when are these asshats going to learn that cell phones do not interfere with flight controls? You'd figure at least one of them had to watch that MythBusters episode.

Mythbusters is an entertaining show, but their methodologies aren't exactly rigorous.

Consumer RF devices vary widely in their behavior. Any testing effort would have to include a large sampling of what is available (and/or still in use). All it takes is one harmonic that collides with the navigation receiver's tuned frequency. It doesn't even have to be very strong.

A pico-cell in the interior of a plane is a good remedy, as it can tell phones to keep their effective radiated power as low as possible. But in the US, I don't think it's an option until the equipment is built and certified for use in the aircraft.

Re:FCC? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812747)

Shouldn't that be FAA?
And when are these asshats going to learn that cell phones do not interfere with flight controls? You'd figure at least one of them had to watch that MythBusters episode.


Uh, the IEEE have conducted a few more detailed experiments than the Mythbusters (nothing against them - I like the show), and have found that certain cellphones cause issues with avionics [ieee.org] .

Not all cellphones, not all planes, not all avionics - its combinations of them. The interesting one is causing GPS to lose satellite lock, which can be serious if using GPS approaches, since the plane must abort and divert (won't happen at big airports with traditional ILS, but smaller ones who find that a GPS approach is far cheaper than the expensive ILS equipment).

And it's not just cellphones, but certain consumer electronics have had documented effects. Whether anything has actually caused a crash is yet to be determined since most accidents are a chain of events, rather than a single smoking gun. (BTW, unrelated fact - yes, most accidents actually happen near airports than enroute cruise. Just want to spoil the joke.)

Personally, I've heard the cellphone "buzz" over the radio - picked up either by the radio stack or the audio panel - on the Cessnas I've flown. A minor annoyance every few minutes during a flight, but still, a distraction to the pilot. And there are claims airline pilots can hear them too in their radios - some may even say "And by the way, thanks to whoever left their cellphone on...".

But it's more for the FCC preventing use of cellphones (DoS of cell towers by causing interference). I suppose a terrorist would just need a few dozen cellphones and flights to take down significant portions of the cell network.

I suppose it's good that it's just data and SMS for the moment - air rage incidents would rise sharply had they done voice. Plus relaying data is far simpler than relaying voice (less latency constraints). Though, I suppose a major holdup for voice is negotiating the roaming agreements - airlines are probably salivating at the ability to ding people $5/minute for using their cellphones via the roaming agreemnts, while cell carriers are having difficulties because a domestic flight will then have them paying loads for roaming...

Re:FCC? (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813583)

The interesting one is causing GPS to lose satellite lock, which can be serious if using GPS approaches, since the plane must abort and divert (won't happen at big airports with traditional ILS, but smaller ones who find that a GPS approach is far cheaper than the expensive ILS equipment).

Why would they allow a GPS landing system that is so fragile? It seems like all someone would need are some directional antennas and transmit the right frequencies towards approaching planes and they'll be forced to land somewhere else.

Shouldn't the GPS for Aviation manufacturer have to build their device to a higher standard that it's able to handle a little interference?

Re:FCC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18813215)

Yeah, because those guys are SO scientific.

Three-month *trial* (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811589)

three-month trail of a new in-flight cellular service
Is that anything like a three-hour tour?

Re:Three-month *trial* (1)

foamrotreturns (977576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811651)

I was thinking it would be more like the Oregon Trail.

Re:Three-month *trial* (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812111)

A police has kept you on the tarmac overnight.

You has dysentary.

You has died.

Re:Three-month *trial* (1)

Anonymous Scoured (1088093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812425)

Is that anything like a three-hour tour?
Well at least on the three-hour tour, you didn't have to listen to Mr. Howell yammering into a coconut to his stock broker.

Twitchy fingers... (1)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811595)

Blackberry outages???

Twitchy fingers on a plane???

Wow, I'd be nervous... ;-)

Apple ? Who'd buy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18811605)

Who would buy an Apple ?

Re:Apple ? Who'd buy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812229)

Someone who would post on-topic.

Ideal (1)

justinbach (1002761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811653)

This is perfect. My major concern (and the FAA's, as well, near as I can tell--crowd control) about cellphone usage on airplanes has always been the idiots around me shouting into their phones over the roar of a jet engine about mindless crap. You get a taste of this whenever a plane gets stuck on the runway for 5 hours (jetblue, anyone?) and apparently no one remembered to bring a book, mp3 player, or any other noninvasive form of entertainment. Having text message access is incredibly convenient for letting people know what your ETA is, for example, in case they're planning on picking you up and it's a 2 hour drive to the airport--that kind of thing--but at the same time isn't acoustically abominable.

Let's hope this trial is a success!

Re:Ideal (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811847)

It will also work, while voice is likely to be problematic.

Everything else aside, SAT broadband adds 750ms+ latency and a host of QoS problems. These can only be circumvented by low altitude satellites and new SAT broadband technologies which have not seen any investment for nearly 10 years now. If the airlines create demand for these, it will be a good deal for everyone all around as it will allow internet access around the globe even in the most obscure places. Till then, SMS and GPRS-only is probably a wise decision.

Oh, good! (2, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811663)

The only two words that could possibly improve "Sitting on a flight while the idiot next to you yammers into his cell phone the whole time" are "...to Australia..."!

Honestly, listening to the conversations at the gate ("Bob, could you print out the email to Stacy and fax it to Linda? And could you ask Debbie to scan the fax from Jeff and email it to Julio?") I mostly wonder how these people have jobs at all, let alone ones that can afford air travel.

Re:Oh, good! (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811781)

As they say, "RTFS" - read the fine summary. "During the trial at least, only SMS, MMS, and GPRS (data) traffic will be allowed; voice calls will be blocked." I think allowing data but not voice is the perfect way to let people keep in touch and stay productive without driving everybody nuts. So long as they continue that policy beyond the trial (and they did say "at least"), I see nothing to complain about. (And no, realistically, I don't think VOIP will happen enough to be a problem).

Re:Oh, good! (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811949)

Well, to be fair, Australians tend to be far more civilised about these things. Down here you can sit in the airport without having to endure people shouting into a phone (judging by the number of people from the US that I hear complaining about it, it sounds as though people are incapable of talking normally into a phone there). I suspect that voice calls are blocked so as to keep bandwidth requirements down.

Re:Oh, good! (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812325)

Worse are the people who use loudspeaker while in public.

Re:Oh, good! (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813017)


Worse yet are the people who travel in pairs or groups, and talk to each other while on an airplane! If you thought it was bad to have to suffer through hearing ONE side of a conversation, it's even worse having to hear BOTH sides of one!

The only reasonable solution is to prevent airline passengers from talking at all for the duration of the flight!

Re:Oh, good! (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812925)

Or maybe it's because Australia only has 20 million people and the US has 300 million, so the numbers of people in the far-fewer airports are far less, giving the false impression that Australians are more "civilized".

Re:Oh, good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812803)

I have no problem with people making in-flight voice calls, provided that they go outside to make them.

Not a bad idea... (4, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811769)

>> During the trial at least, only SMS, MMS, and GPRS (data) traffic will be allowed; voice calls will be blocked.

Having data/sms access would be nice, but I've always thought that having voice access would be very disturbing. The last thing I need is to spend an overnight flight listening to the knob next to me jabber on his phone the whole time.

If they do enable this in a wider scale, I would hope they continue to block voice calls.

MadCow.

Re:Not a bad idea... (0)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811835)

Take comfort in the fact that if they did allow voice calls, at the international rates someone jabbering all the way to Australia will be bankrupt by the time they touch down.

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812001)

Not necessarily. I have T-Mobile in the US, and when I visited Ireland for a week and a half 2 years ago I made several hundred calls back to the US. My phone bill was roughly $400 ($160 for normal 5000 minutes service package, $240 for international calls). Since most of the calls were for work, my employer picked up the tab. International rates don't stop anyone from making calls except of the utmost frugal of us (or those who don't need to make calls for work).

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813019)

i was under the impression that there was no such thing as a general international rate just rates applying to calls involving particular countries in a particular way. In some cases as you say the prices not too bad in others i belive you can be up into the pounds per minuite.

So when the article says international rates it really doesn't say anything about just how expensive this will be.

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813103)

Agreed. More clarification is definitely needed. I think by "international" they mean "what some people would consider obscene". International to some countries can mean USD 0.30/minute, while if you're on a cruise ship with a GSM tower or you're using Imarsat you can be paying between USD 5.00-7.00 per minute.

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

lintux (125434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811863)

Agreed. No voice calls, never. However, support for SMS means that from now we get to enjoy all the silly annoying ringtones people have selected when they receive SMS messages. Bah.

And wasn't there this theory that allowing passengers to communicate with the outside world can cause stress and panic when things aren't going as well as planned?

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812645)

That's something for the airlines to decide. I'm sure that it would be perfectly legal for QANTAS to let me take my pants off in the cabin on its flights, however I doubt that it would go down too well if I tried it.

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

Scott Wunsch (417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812781)

Think about what the article said, though. Your phone is connected to a small tower in the plane, and it functions like a separate country for the purposes of the cellular network, so you're paying international roaming rates. Now I don't know about your plan, but for me, that's at least a couple bucks a minute. For a sufficiently important (and short) call, I'll pay that. But I sure won't be droning on with inane chatter for a couple hours like you're implying.

To be honest, I don't really see this as being too different than the wired phones that are already present on a lot of planes. It will be expensive to use, and that alone will be enough to keep it from being a nuisance.

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

deepestblue (206649) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813099)

What rubbish. They ought to deal with it in planes the same way they deal with it in cinemas, opera halls and the like - prominent notices, announcements, and social taboos.

The government has absolutely no business regulating manners.

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814017)

I was thinking of a lead pipe.

"Voice Calls Will be Blocked" (5, Funny)

Zero_DgZ (1047348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811801)

So nobody can call authorities during a 9/11 style emergency. They just have to text it out.

hlp flt 423 they r in r plane kling r dudes

Re:"Voice Calls Will be Blocked" (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811885)

"hlp we r pwned!"

Great post.

Re:"Voice Calls Will be Blocked" (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812235)

ORLY? OMG!

Re:"Voice Calls Will be Blocked" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18811915)

> So nobody can call authorities during a 9/11 style emergency.

Now if only you could put 2 and 2 together then you'd know what happened to 93.

Re:"Voice Calls Will be Blocked" (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812183)

Didn't they decide to act after learning that the other 3 planes had already crashed and acceeding to their demands would likely end the same way?

As I become the first to welcome.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18811899)

our roaming, High-Flying overlords....

It might be worth pointing out that the US is trying to delay the onset of this technology until they have a company capable of doing what the rest of the world already does.

The Mile high club... (2, Funny)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18811925)

Just the idea of "Roaming down-under" in a plane reminds me of a bad porn flick.

Re:The Mile high club... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812099)

Everything on /. reminds me of a bad porn flick. /flamebait (she is barely 18 and on fire!)

Will they block VoIP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18811987)

I realize the latency isn't going to help, but I'm sure someone who just has to talk will hook this up.

Financially rewarding (1)

superbrose (1030148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812005)

I remember that years ago when I was on a plane lots of people received calls and text messages on their phones both at take-off and at landing. Mostly those phones were in the over-head lockers, so nobody bothered switching them off at the time.

The interference problem can obviously not be that bad. So technically I don't think there would be any problem implementing the in-plane GSM transmitter.

But whether this is desirable remains another issue. I wonder how healthy it is to be surrounded by so many mobile phones plus the GSM transmitter in such close proximity...

So far we have managed to survive without using our mobile phones on planes - is this really necessary?

I can see the financial benefits as being tempting though, carriers like Ryanair would probably make more money from on-flight phone calls than from selling tickets!

Re:Financially rewarding (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812101)

I think it has never been a problem of jamming the communications but rather a problem of making money out of the situation.

Now it may be even harder to make people understand that the communications were never an issue without triggering reactions such as "you lied all this time to us". They will need to find some way to market it and make money out of it.

The only issue that scares me is that in the case of a crash or terrorist attack people could try to send data to their families or ground police.

fuc4er (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812061)

Skype Anyone? (3, Interesting)

ironwill96 (736883) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812435)

So..how long until the GPRS data user figures out "hey, I can plug in a microphone and just use Skype since its 'data' traffic". Queue the inane conversations using only "data" now. Basically restricting it to data will have no effect as VOIP has been around for a long time last time I checked..

Blegh, people should chill out and not bother everyone else when they are on an airplane.

Re:Skype Anyone? (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812515)

I don't think GPRS has the bandwidth to run Skype. It is only marginally faster than dialup.

Re:Skype Anyone? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812815)

GPRS peaks at over 100kbps. It has more than enough bandwidth to run VoIP. The problem is latency, not throughput. Skype might not be the answer but low-bitrate AMR can be sent over such a connection. It's just going to be chunky. I would prefer a walkie talkie style communication (Voice IM) over such a connection. Back in the day you could get a program called phpfone (IIRC) that would make an 8kHz mono audio stream, compress it, encrypt it, and send it; Mac and PC, interoperable. I believe it came out of MIT. But that would work over a good modem connection.

Re:Skype Anyone? (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812849)

GSM speech encoding uses 9.6kbps, and many speech codecs can work well at lower bitrates than that. I don't know about Skype, but I'd be very surprised if there aren't voip solutions that work fine over GPRS.

Re:Skype Anyone? (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812561)

I am hoping that those with the IQ to think about doing that, and the know-how to use Skype, will also be coincidentally courteous enough not to do it.

So how did the people on 911 use their cell phones (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812641)

So how did the people on 911 use their cell phones again?

Re:So how did the people on 911 use their cell pho (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812953)

By violating FAA and FCC regulations.

well yea (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813177)

I know how it was *socially* possible -- rule-breaking, like you said. But how was it *technically* possible, when there are all these articles about all the extra hardware they have to install in airplanes in order to provide cell service?

Re:So how did the people on 911 use their cell pho (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18813337)

So how did the people on 911 use their cell phones again?

They didn't. They used air phones. You know, those things that are in mounted in the plane seats. You give them your credit card and then you can call over a satellite link.

Only two calls from 9/11 hijacked planes were made using cell phones. Both within the same minute or two on Flight 93 as it was flying low over Pennsylvania countryside. Cell towers in the country have ranges of up to 30 kilometers, which occasionally allows for short calls if a plane full of people keep hitting redial.

All this has been well documented an published; yet for some reason conspiracy nuts can't quite wrap their brains around it. Go figure.

I've read a lot (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813493)

And I haven't seen it documented or published anywhere. Not denying, just saying the info doesn't seem to be as easy to find as you make it out to be. It's certainly believable.

Constant cell phone access (1)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812851)

Next, we need a way to enable cell-phone access in the shower. It's very important that I let my friends know what kind of shampoo I'm using.

No voice calls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812877)

LO Im bn hijkd cn U caL d or4iteez I cnt cal on my fone @ d momNt. ta.

Data link vs Voice link (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812927)

There's no difference in GSM and UMTS as they are both digital networks.
So if sending an SMS won't ... ehm ... disrupt inflight operations, voice communication won't as well.
The bottom line is that you loose your freedom until you are in a plane.
br

No!!!! (1)

iCharles (242580) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813029)

I do NOT want to be stuck in a seat next to someone bored, yammering on about whatever. Keep the phones OFF on planes!

Why we are so obsessed with our mobiles? (1)

itz2000 (1027660) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813195)

Nothing bad will happen if you'll turn your phone off for an eight hours flight
Also, it might give you some rests from our daily things, so you'll not have to get in-touch while flying and actually rest on the plan...

sounds good doesn't it?

Think of the opportunity.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18813377)

You could make a pretty good living flying around and eavesdropping on idiots giving away their employers' business information.

If the call isn't important, it can wait until you're on the ground again. If it is important, you shouldn't be discussing it in public.

Won't somebody (2, Funny)

x3rc3s (954149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813429)

...please, think of the bee's
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